Over the last few days, discussions have been taking place in anticipation of the 14th United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. This is the second time the conference is taking place in Kenya but this time it is different.
The Kenya of today is hungry and yearning for development. Our Kenyan delegation is not only made of those in Government but also the Private Sector and Civil Society, influencing decision makers on key areas of investment and driving public private partnerships.
Unfortunately, for the common mwananchi, conferences such as these pose more of an inconvenience rather than a benefit. ‘Wanjiku’ gets up early to go to work or look for work so that they can fend for their families. They wait for the day when the price of food, housing, welfare and other commodities will be much more affordable than they currently are. Ideally, they could care less about such conferences. However, we need to help Wanjiku understand what Kenya stands to gain by hosting key individuals and global conferences.
I will agree that hosting these International Conferences and High Profile Delegations comes at a cost. Schedules are disrupted and most of us in the city are highly inconvenienced. However, we need to focus on the bigger picture. It is easier said than done but it is a fact that Kenya as a country stands to benefit economically and socially through these conferences.
Conference tourism is one of the major areas Kenya stands to benefit. Insecurity had paralyzed our tourism sector and left many Kenyans unemployed but we have begun to rise again. Hosting these conferences not only proves that we are stable as a country (security) but we have the potential and capacity to host world conferences.
As we open ourselves to business delegations, investors and key decision makers, we easily expose ourselves to the business perks that come with these visits. Kenya is conveniently able to position and market itself showcasing various investment opportunities as well as initiating partnerships. We have an advantage over other countries because we can expose business leaders and investors to what Kenya has to offer. It is up to our Government and Private Sector leaders to use every opportunity they get to market Kenya and get these opportunities.
Our women and young people are a key component to the developmental agenda. It is encouraging to see that in most if not all International conferences, the development and empowerment of women and youth form a major part of the agenda. It is time not only for our youth but also our women entrepreneurs to encourage one another and participate in such events and conferences. Promoting this agenda encourages Governments to reinforce policies that foster the growth of women entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership.
Additionally, I get encouraged when I see our political leaders uniting and working together towards the common goal of development. During such times, we move away from petty politics and focus on Kenya’s developmental agenda. I only wish that most times they could spare us the agony of their bickering and focus on building the same people that gave them the leadership roles.
Going forward, county governments need to encourage the development of business hotels, conference facilities and infrastructure across counties. This will not only develop the people in those counties but also spill over to developing our country as a whole.
I look forward to a time where Mombasa or Kisumu or even counties around Nairobi, will host some of these conferences and open the world to some of our great cities. As citizens, we must play our part in this by working together and pressuring our leaders to work or go home.
We may have our differences but let us bury the days of using violence to express dissatisfaction and channel that energy towards development. Nairobi is just a part of Kenya. The world needs to see and experience more of Kenya.
Finally, let us plan ourselves and cooperate with the traffic and security regulations as we look forward to hosting more and more conferences. Kenya will continue to position itself as world player on trade and development and we definitely do not want to be left behind. May our leaders, women and youth not just attend the different forums but participate and implement what has been agreed upon. I hope that we will jump on the opportunity and use our online influence to showcase what Kenya has to offer.